Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Franchise Vice President, Debra Mallowah, has called upon MSMEs to focus on building a strong and consistent brand for their businesses amid the current tough economic times.

Mallowah was speaking during a mentorship session for MSME’s on COVID-19 recovery and resilience organized by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and Mastercard Foundation.

A survey conducted in April 2020 indicated that about 27% of MSMEs had already been forced to stop their operations, while another 44% required working capital financing to survive.

“The past one year has been tough for most MSMEs and a significant number have even gone out of business due to cash flow challenges and poor sales. My message to you is not to let failure define who you are but to let failure teach you. Position yourself as a powerful brand, be consistent and treat every day as a beginning of new possibilities,” added Mallowah.

She further urged entrepreneurs, especially women, not to fear failure, noting it as an obstacle that has kept most of them from venturing into business and succeeding.

Together with its partners, The Coca-Cola Company has over the last one year spent over Ksh. 125 million to support 18,000 trading partners, most of who are MSME’s, to recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative, dubbed Open Like Never Before, has seen the company’s trade partners who range from distributors to retailers, eateries, dukas and kiosks, receive various forms of support, ranging from access to financing, provision of Personal Protective Equipment and hand washing gear.

Other MSME initiatives that the company has been supporting over the years include Kuza Kazi youth empowerment and 5by20 women empowerment programs.